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Every year, February 9th is celebrated as National Pizza Day, the day of the mouthwatering dish with countless lovers worldwide. Pizza has won everyone’s heart with different enjoyable variations as it is the 2nd most popular food in the USA, ranking after hamburgers. There is no information about when or how National Pizza Day started, but it is popular and celebrated every year. Every year, Americans eat an average of 23 pounds of pizza each person, equivalent to about 46 slices per person per year, making us understand the existence of National Pizza Day.
The history of this palatable food dates back to Naples in the 1700s. Flatbreads with toppings were consumed in ancient times, but modern pizza emerged in Naples, Italy. The people of Naples created pizza first as flatbread with different toppings in search of easy-to-consume food. These first pizzas were topped with cheese, garlic, oil, and anchovies. The spread of pizza in the USA began with the immigration of some Italians to the USA.
By then, different variations emerged: Gourmet pizzas, original Neopolitan pizza, deep-dish pizza, and many more. The most preferred and loved pizza toppings are cheese, pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, bacon, onions, green peppers, and olives.
Why We Celebrate National Pizza Day?
Pizza’s allure stems from the fact that it can be changed according to different tastes and preferences. There is a pizza for everyone—whether with or without sauce, thin or thick-crusted, and whichever cheese kind you want.
Its feature is gathering everyone together. Pizza always has its place near us at parties, home with friends, workplaces, or restaurants, celebrating a particular day, or just enjoying this fantastic dish. So, National Pizza Day is another good excuse to meet with friends and enjoy this delicious food.
What are the Most Popular Pizzas?
- Pepperoni: Pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping in America, according to big pizza chains. Pepperoni is the name of the spicy salami made of beef and pork, and pizza is made using pepperoni, tomato sauce, and mozzarella. You can never go wrong with a classic!
- Neapolitan Pizza: Neapolitan pizza is recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage. This is the dish the entire Naples tourism hinges on, with its beautiful thin crust and bright red tomatoes from the hills of Mount Vesuvius. The high-quality ingredients and baking at high temperatures for a short time set this pizza apart from its counterparts.
- Margherita: We can count Margherita as the first pizza type, taking its name from Queen Margherita and marking that pizza as Italian. It is simple and delicious and considered a variant of the famous Neapolitan pizza—the difference between the two lies in the baking time. Margherita pizza is baked at a lower temperature for a longer time to help the dough rise further. Therefore, it has a thicker crust than the Neapolitan pizza.
- Roman Style Pizza: Roman style cut, also known as Pizza al Taglio (meaning “pizza by the cut”), is a beloved variety originating from the heart of Italy. Characterized by its thin, crispy, yet slightly airy crust, this pizza is baked in large, rectangular trays and traditionally sold in square slices. Neapolitan pizza is a growing trend in 2024.
- Hawaiian Pizza: Hawaiian pizza is a controversial yet highly popular pizza style. It is famously topped with pineapples. Despite the name, it originated in Canada in 1962 in an experiment to mix sweet and savory notes similar to Chinese cuisine. While it has been around for quite a while, it only truly shone and spread in the last decade and is bound to be a crowd favorite in 2024.
- Stromboli: Stromboli is a kind of turnover dough filled with mozzarella or other types of cheese, meat such as pepperoni or salami, and sometimes vegetables. The dough, either bread or pizza dough, is wrapped before baking.
- Chicago-Style Deep Dish: Chicago-style deep-dish pizza is a cultural symbol of Chicago, and there is even a special day for it, April 5th, National Deep-dish Pizza Day! It has a few cheese layers, tomatoes, meat, and a crispy crust.
- Sicilian: Sicilian pizza has a thick square crust topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. The cheese is placed under the sauce so the crust can bake properly.
- New York Style: New York-style pizza is similar to Margherita pizza, a thin-crust pizza made of tomato sauce seasoned with garlic, oregano, red pepper, sugar, and salt and topped with mozzarella cheese.
- Greek Style: Created by Greek immigrants, this pizza has a thick crust, oregano-flavored tomato sauce, greasy cheese, feta cheese, artichokes, and olives as toppings. It is cooked in an oily pan, frying the crust.
- California Style: This thin-crusted pizza is known for its unique toppings. It can be topped with fish, chicken, BBQ sauce, or pineapples.
How to Celebrate National Pizza Day?
There are many fun and delicious ways to celebrate this amazing day besides just having a pizza slice.
- Find the best pizzeria in your city and gobble up the pizzas with your friends.
- Try to bake new pizza styles with your family. Maybe a chocolate pizza? Not so unique. What about a tuna fish pizza?
- Costume as a pizza with your friends or family. Pizza-shaped clothes, hats, and even a mask. Make yourself a whole cheesy pizza.
- On traditional pizza day, decorate everything and everywhere with pizza. Have fun and eat pizza as much as you can.
- Throw a pizza-themed party. If you love the ideas above, combine them into one big pizza party. Order from your favorite pizzeria, decorate the whole house and enjoy a long pizza party with your family and friends.
- Organize a pizza trivia night. Pizza has been around for centuries and is one of the most widespread foods in the world. You can have fun with questions about its history and types. Have your friends guess which toppings are the most popular, and watch them go crazy over pineapple being in the top 10!
- Organize a pizza for charity. A charity event can turn this wonderful day into a joy for all. Pizza is a popular food; you can sell a lot of it on National Pizza Day and donate the proceeds to various causes. Choose a cause close to your heart and get to baking!
- Set up a pizza-baking contest. Gather your fellow pizza lovers, shop for some ingredients, and begin baking! A little competition can spice up the night and produce various delicious pizzas. Regardless of who wins, you’ll have tons of pizza to celebrate.
For Food Service Business
You can also turn National Pizza Day into a huge advantage for your business. Apart from National Pizza Day, there are many other pizza holidays, such as Deep Dish Pizza Day, National Pepperoni Pizza Day, pizza Margherita Day, etc. Considering the huge numbers of pizza lovers in the USA, investing in these pizzeria equipment in your restaurant can throw an unforgettable pizza banquet on National Pizza Day.
- Dough Mixer: Dough mixers are designed specifically for dense doughs. The spiral mixing hooks are stationary, but the bowl rotates instead, ensuring all the content is mixed thoroughly.
- Pizza Dough Rounder: The next step in baking pizza is dividing and rounding the dough. At this point, a pizza dough rounder and dough divider rounders enter, making you easily and quickly round a huge amount of dough in a bit of time.
- Pizza Dough Presses: A pizza dough press easily achieves the perfect thickness and roundness of the dough.
- Pizza Prep Table: The pizza prep table has refrigerated counters, so you can keep all your ingredients and toppings at safe temperatures while preparing pizzas on top of the prep table.
- Commercial Pizza Ovens: A commercial pizza oven is the most crucial commercial kitchen equipment for baking a good pizza. Brick ovens are a traditional way of baking pizza with a wood fire, giving it a smoky flavor, but they are hard to install and require considerable space so that you may prefer a convection or conveyor oven for your kitchen.
- Countertop Hot Food Display Cases: With countertop hot food display cases, you can display delicious-looking pizzas while keeping them warm. They will also give customers an idea of how different pizza types look.
- Pizza Pan Racks: Pizza pan racks are a lifesaver to operate efficiently and save space in the kitchen. You can place the pizza pans before putting them in or after taking them off the oven.
- Pizza-Heated Cabinets: Pizza heated cabinets are another way to display and keep the pizzas warm until serving simultaneously. With multiple racks, you may save a few pizzas at the same time and bake many pizzas without waiting.
(You can also take a look at our guide about pizzeria equipment for more.)
Pizza’s Economic, Cultural, Environmental, and Nutritional Significance
Pizza, as one of the most popular and widely consumed dishes in the world, carries economic, environmental, and cultural significance.
Thanks to its wide popularity, pizza is always in demand in many locations and occupies a substantial place in the food sector. This demand creates businesses and jobs to meet consumer needs. In addition to creating jobs and growing regional economies with constant production, pizza is a stable takeout option. The takeout nature of the dish triggers and fuels the innovations and inventions in the packaging and delivery industries. Many delivery companies aimed for fast and hot delivery with under 30-minute campaigns, making takeout a popular option.
Pizza’s Cultural Significance
It carries cultural significance for various countries while Americans of all ages love pizza. Since it originated in Italy, Italians consider it one of their national dishes. UNESCO included Italian pizza in its intangible cultural heritage, a great badge of honor for the country. However, the adaptability of the dish made it possible for many countries beyond the US and Italy to use it as a medium of cultural expression. You can find seafood toppings on your pizza in Japan or spicy chicken as a topping in India. The baking method, the toppings, the thinness of the crust, etc., are all subject to cultural adaptation when it comes to pizza.
Pizza is a rich dish with many ingredients, and this very nature of the dish increases its carbon footprint significantly. Pizza is commonly made with cheese, which is a dairy product. Dairy production is associated with high amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas, and intense water usage. Producing 100g of cheese can cause 2.79 kg of CO2 emission. Similarly, meat toppings like pepperoni are also produced by cattle, producing methane gas. Cattle farming requires a lot of water and land usage for feed production and grazing. This can cause deforestation, and 100g of beef is produced at the cost of 15.5 kg of CO2 emission.
Also, big pizza chains tend to source their ingredients from the cheapest producer, not necessarily close to their headquarters. The transportation of ingredients from far places inevitably contributes to carbon emissions.
While pizza is a dish everyone loves, we shouldn’t forget about the environmental impact and take measures to reduce it as much as possible. You can opt for local pizzerias over big chains and ensure they source their ingredients from local farmers. Also, switching to plant-based pizza toppings can reduce your carbon footprint tremendously.
Nutritional Value of Pizza and Healthier Alternatives
Pizza’s nutritional value heavily depends on your choice of ingredients. Traditional pizzas typically consist of a bread-based crust, tomato sauce, cheese, and various toppings. A slice of plain cheese pizza contains carbohydrates primarily from the crust, protein from the cheese, and moderate fat. It is hard to pin down a sharp nutritional profile for pizza due to its versatility in toppings. For instance, vegetable toppings can add vitamins and fiber, while meat toppings can increase the protein and fat content. Pizzas with thinner crusts generally have fewer calories. It’s also worth noting that pizzas can be high in sodium and saturated fats, depending on the cheese and processed meats used.
If you want to enjoy your favorite dish with maximum healthiness, you can look into the following alternatives:
- Thinner Crust: While a deep-dish pizza or thick cheese stuffed crust might be appealing, a thinner crust will carry fewer calories. Neapolitan pizza is famously made with a thinner crust; it can be your new favorite.
- Vegetable Toppings: Vegetables are rich in vitamins and low in calories. You can increase your nutrition intake with one small change!
- Whole Grain or Gluten-Free Crust: You can include more fiber and no gluten in your diet by opting for different types of dough in your pizza. There are many vegan and gluten-free establishments doing wonders with pizza.
- Deconstructed Pizza: Deconstructed pizza eliminates the dough from the equation and places the delicious pizza toppings on a bed of greens to increase the nutritional value.
- Different Types of Cheese: Mozzarella can be very heavy. You can opt for part-skim mozzarella or lighter cheese forms on your pizza.
To Sum Up
National Pizza Day, celebrated on February 9th, is a wonderful opportunity to explore and enjoy the diverse world of pizza. With its rich history and global popularity, this universally beloved dish offers an array of flavors and styles catering to every preference. From the classic Neapolitan and Margherita to innovative California and Greek styles, pizza’s versatility allows it to continually evolve and adapt to different cultural tastes and dietary needs.
Additionally, this day presents a unique chance for food service businesses to showcase their culinary skills and creativity while embracing sustainability and nutritional awareness. Whether indulging in a slice at a local pizzeria, experimenting with homemade creations, or participating in pizza-themed events, National Pizza Day is a celebration of a dish that brings people together, transcending geographical and cultural barriers. As we relish our favorite slices, let’s also be mindful of pizza’s environmental impact and explore healthier alternatives to ensure our enjoyment aligns with sustainable and health-conscious choices.